Ingredients to Avoid in Pre-workout

If you’re considering buying a new pre-workout supplement, you’ve come to the right place. 

With so many fitness brands on the market, finding one that will meet your needs and goals can be challenging. So, we gathered a list of ingredients to avoid in pre-workout products to help you make better choices.

Many supplements nowadays contain illegitimate and underdosed ingredients which may not benefit you. So, take note of these ingredients to save you from potential risks and other negative side effects.

If you want to know more about the pre-workout ingredients to avoid, keep reading! 

Why Use a Pre-workout Supplement?

Pre-workouts are dietary supplements that improve exercise performance. Taking these supplements can be helpful for you if you struggle with staying motivated and focused throughout your training. They also aid in fatigue, strength, and blood flow.  

While taking these supplements has many advantages, they also have potential risks if you choose the wrong product. Many supplement companies include additives, artificial sweeteners or flavors, and other unnecessary ingredients in their products just to impress you. 

For you to avoid potential risks, here is a list of pre-workout ingredients to avoid: 

Read also: Does Pre-workout Make You Sweat More?

7 Pre-workout Ingredients to Avoid

Ingredients to Avoid in Pre-workout

1. Proprietary Blends

The first ingredient you should avoid in a pre-workout is a proprietary blend. It uses a specific combination of components to achieve a particular effect, like an extreme energy boost. 

At first, it may seem beneficial for your workout sessions. But chances are, you have no idea how much you’re consuming. So, you’ll never know if you’re getting enough, too much, or too little of those ingredients. 

A lot of manufacturers include a proprietary blend in their pre-workout supplements. They may display each ingredient of that “blend,” but they will not disclose the real dosage. As a result, it may lead to negative reactions and side effects.

On another note, FDA requires all pre-workout formulas to label their blends with total weight. All ingredients must also be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. In this case, brands will dilute the costly ingredients with fillers. Although these fillers don’t provide advantages and dangers to your body, you still receive less of what you want. 

So, if you prefer a good pre-workout containing transparent information, avoid those with proprietary blends.

2. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are other pre-workout ingredients you should avoid. Aside from pre-workout supplements, you can also find these chemicals in other beverages and products. 

One common flavor that supplement companies use to add taste is sucralose. For instance, adding sucralose to branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) will taste like blue raspberry. Without any sweeteners, they taste terrible. 

One good reason to avoid artificial flavors is their effect on insulin and glucose regulation. Your body releases insulin to shuttle glucose into cells when it tastes sweet. When there is no glucose, the insulin stays in the blood. 

As a result, it leads to a drastic increase risk of insulin resistance and high insulin levels.

3. Caffeine

Even though most pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, they still have disadvantages. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant for the nervous system. However, it’s not really offering you the benefits for good and in the long term. Instead, it boosts your gains in exchange for your health.

Some brands add too much caffeine to their products, while others like to moderate it. Regardless, this still leads to potentially harmful levels, like an increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Also read: Pre-workout Instead of Coffee

4. Under-dosed Ingredients

When looking for a great pre-workout or dietary supplement, there are specific ingredients that you are looking for since they all play an essential role in making it work for you. 

For instance, you need one with caffeine to improve mental focus or nitric oxide for better blood flow. Meanwhile, beta-alanine fights fatigue and Yohimbe widens your blood vessels. 

Aside from that, another factor you need to consider is the certain ingredient’s dosage amount. Checking it gives you justice and assurance that your supplement will meet your demands. If the pre-workout you bought contains several ingredients with small serving sizes, you might also want to manage or lower your expectations. 

In other words, your product is underdosed and ineffective. 

5. Non-scientifically proven formulas

With so many online and clinical studies on the internet, it’s hard to determine whether a certain pre-workout supplement works and contains clinically effective dosages. Some well-known brands in the supplement industry can exaggerate and fabricate research on specific ingredients to better present their product to their audience.

Therefore, legitimate and scientific research (like third-party research and scientific backing) is essential. Doing this also supports the ingredients and proves the pre-workout formula is safe and effective. 

6. Carbonation

Another ingredient to avoid in a pre-workout are carbonated beverages. These acidic drinks have a number of drawbacks, such as being high in calories and sugar, which can make you gain weight. They also contain caffeine, resulting in dehydration and interrupted sleep.

Read also: Does Pre-workout Have Calories?

7. Fillers and Unnecessary Ingredients

Another thing to watch out for in a pre-workout is ineffective and needless ingredients. At first, you might think you’re getting the most out of a product. However, companies like to include additives to increase the portion without costing more money. 

One common additive is maltodextrin, which is a cheap carbohydrate. Brands use this in their supplements to enhance thickness, flavor, shelf life, and bulk size. On the downside, it promotes inflammation, spikes blood sugar, and causes weight gain. Not to mention, it has zero nutritional value.

FAQs About Pre-workout Supplements

How to avoid pre-workout supplements?

If you plan to avoid or at least minimize your pre-workout intake, one way is to consume foods that contain the same ingredients in your supplement.

For instance, foods like poultry, red meat, and fish contain ingredients like creatine and beta-alanine. You can also improve your exercise performance by focusing on your diet before and after your workout.

Are pre-workouts bad for you?

It varies for everybody. Many pre-workouts contain caffeine, a strong stimulant to the nervous system. People metabolize caffeine at different rates.  

However, if you are caffeine-sensitive or have a low tolerance, you might want to skip them and opt for a stim-free pre-workout or other alternatives.

What are the benefits of caffeine in pre-workout supplements?

Many pre-workouts frequently use caffeine to increase focus and energy levels. It also improves memory, mental alertness, exercise performance, and fat-burning. 

What are the benefits of pre-workout supplements?

Taking pre-workouts helps improve muscle endurance, relieve muscle soreness, enhance athletic anaerobic performance, increase blood flow, and more.

However, it’s also important to note that taking pre-workout supplements alone will not automatically achieve all your fitness goals. Getting enough sleep and having a proper diet are also essential. 

Final Words

Ingredients to Avoid in Pre-workout

Fitness supplements are an excellent way to improve training performance. However, many supplement companies include unnecessary and under-dosed ingredients in their pre-workout formulas.

By taking note of the list above on what to avoid, you will save yourself from potential negative side effects and other health risks.

If you liked this article, read our other reviews at

Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.